Regarding the June 5 Perspectives commentary “Let UPMC and Highmark Argue It Out” by Steve Pociask and Joseph P. Fuhr Jr.:
As a former Highmark subscriber, current UPMC Medicare subscriber and patient, I would like to bring one specific issue up to the gentlemen who wrote the above noted article: You do not live in Western Pennsylvania and are not affected by this issue. You both live and work either in Washington, D.C., or Eastern Pennsylvania. Yes, you may have multiple graduate degrees, etc., and much experience, but you are not directly affected by this issue.
Highmark has more than 3 million Western Pennsylvania subscribers (both employer contracts and direct pay subscribers) who may be denied access to UPMC hospitals and staff. They are being treated as collateral damage by UPMC due to this possible lack of a contract. UPMC has the best hospitals, doctors and staff, but its senior management and board of directors leave a lot to be desired. UPMC has more than 25 doctors or executives who make over a million dollars a year. UPMC pays minimal Allegheny County real estate taxes, and it has international facilities (and an international jet to fly to those places).
What happens to the Highmark subscribers in Pittsburgh (corporate headquarters for UPMC) and Western Pennsylvania if this happens? I have complained about Highmark’s rate hikes for over a decade and now it is the “white hat” in this situation.
If the authors of this piece had loved ones insured by Highmark who needed to go to a UPMC facility or see a UPMC doctor on Jan. 2, 2015, and were denied access, what would Mr. Pociask or Mr. Fuhr tell them? (I have asked state Sens. Don White and Joseph Scarnati the same question and never received an answer.) Our elected officials in the state House of Representatives and Senate and the governor have to force a new contract, period.